By the age of 6 months, majority cat breeds are sexually mature and ready to conceive. And if you allow your cat outside, there is every possibility she will get pregnant during this time. But, as a pet owner how will you be able to tell if your cat is in the family way?
Signs of pregnancy manifest early in cats. Within 3 weeks of gestation, sometimes even less, various physical and behavioral changes become evident. If this is your first pet cat, you better educate yourself on the early signs of pregnancy for soon you may have three or four furry creatures prowling around the house.
How to tell if a cat is pregnant?
1. Heat Cycles
The first sign is the cessation of the heat cycle. A heat cycle is the period when a cat is most fertile and tries to attract a mate in order to mate. It is easy to tell when a cat is in heat or not. Heat cycles in cats are usually identified by signs such as caterwauling for the mate (those loud noisy meows), rolling on the floor, rubbing their head and neck against your legs or constant licking of the genitals.
So, if your cats has had numerous heat cycles within a short period and has suddenly stopped, you may have to investigate for pregnancy.
2. Changes to the Nipples
This is the first and most obvious physical change occurring in pregnant cats. The nipples swell and become large. In addition to this, their color changes to pink and the process is called pinking. The nipples become more prominent within 3 weeks of conception.
3. Morning sickness
We humans suffer morning sickness when pregnant and cats experience it too. Pregnant queens may suffer short bouts of vomiting. There is no need to worry as it is normal. However, if the vomiting gets severe, you should consult your vet.
4. Appetite changes
Your cat suddenly develops a voracious appetite. After all she is eating for herself and the many little ones growing in her belly. Some cats also suffer decreased appetite during the first few weeks of gestation.
5. Swollen abdomen
As the pregnancy progresses, your cat will gain weight. Her abdomen will swell and the abdominal enlargement will continue until time for birthing. 5- 6 weeks post gestation the swollen abdomen becomes noticeable.
6. Behavioral changes
The pregnant queen also displays behavioral changes. She becomes more affectionate. She gets more subdued and wants to stay quite. She prefers to stay at home rather roam outside in search of a mate. She is no longer attracted to tom cats. She strives hard to get the attention of the owner. A Pregnant queen usually eats more, sleeps more and plays less. The cat may also have mood swings. You may have to put up with sudden bursts of anger or aggression too.
Once the pregnancy has advanced, you will observe that sometime your cat is not to be seen around for prolonged stretches of time. On searching, she is either under the bed or couch, behind furniture fixtures or under the cupboard. This is called the nesting behavior where the cat goes around the house looking for the best, most secluded and private place where she can give birth to her kittens.
Clinical Diagnosis of Pregnancy in Cats
If your cat gives you these hints, you can then opt for a clinical diagnosis to confirm the pregnancy. The clinical diagnosis could be a physical examination wherein the vet tells if the cat is pregnancy by feeling the abdomen. An ultrasound may also be used to detect pregnant and/or any problems in the developing fetus.